Top 10 Collectible Designs at Milan Design Week 2018

Lina Bo Bardi Giancarlo Palanti exhibition at Nilufar Depot, Milan. Photo by: Amendolagine Barracchia
BHSD by Maarten Baas
Typecasting installation at La Pelota
Limited Edition exhibition by Dimore Studio. Photo by Andrea Ferrari
AT16 swivel coat stand designed by Borsani for Tecno in 1961
From Robert Sironi’s ruins at Unsighted
Ceramic buildings by Adam Nathaniel Furman
Olympia by Candice Blanc and Ulysse Martel. Photo by Raphaëlle Mueller
Stranger Pinks exhibition by Artemest
3D-printed item from Moon Mission by Driade and Studio Nucleo
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As the major brands launched a flurry of new collections at Milan’s world famous furniture fair, the rest of the city played host to a range of galleries, studios and designers presenting limited edition and historical pieces to satisfy the most discerning of design collectors. From a rare display by Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi to a series of items designed to be artefacts for the future, here are some of the most interesting collectible designs we scouted at Milan Design Week 2018.

 

TEXT: Debika Ray
IMAGES: Courtesy of designers, brands and galleries

 

Lina Bo Bardi at Nilafur Depot

Lina Bo Bardi Giancarlo Palanti exhibition at Nilufar Depot, Milan. Photo by: Amendolagine Barracchia

 

The renowned gallery of Nina Yashar, arguably Milan’s top design dealer, staged a tribute to Italian-born Brazilian modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi, bringing together the largest collection of her furniture and product designs ever exhibited in one place. The result of years of research by Yashar herself and a collaboration with the Instituto Bardi in São Paulo, the exhibition aimed to highlight Bo Bardi’s multidisciplinary approach, and the innovative, humanistic and anthropological qualities of her design. It focused too on the work of her long-time collaborator Giancarlo Palanti, with whom she set up the practice Estúdio de Arte Palma. Among the items on show were a table and chairs conceived for a restaurant in Salvador; a “road‐side chair” from 1967; and church seatings designed for the Espírito Santo do Cerrado church in Uberlândia, in the south-eastern Brazil.

 

 

 

Monster’s Cabaret by Lasvit

BHSD by Maarten Baas

 

Czech glass-maker Lasvit presented its wares in Milan with tongue firmly in cheek – taking over a former puppet theatre, staging a burlesque show and asking a range of big-name designers to reveal their own “personal monsters” and render them in glass – ”glass as a material is almost as eternal as monsters,” the brand says. The results included Nendo’s Something Underneath, ghostly moulded shapes inspired by Japanese folklore; part-robot, part-human, part-alien figurines by the Campana brothers; colourful rhombic faces by Alessandro Mendini; glass recreations of hand-carved clay sculptures by Daniel Libeskind; Fabio Novembre’s “beautiful monsters” that hint at sex toys; and Maarten Baas’s cartoonish BHSD series of monsters.

 

 

Typecasting by Vitra

Typecasting installation at La Pelota

 

The Swiss brand took over an expansive former sports arena in Brera, La Pelota, to present Typecasting, an exhibition of more than 200 objects including commercially successful designs, interesting flops, forgotten pieces and innovative models – with a particular emphasis on the social role of furniture and the way in which chairs and other items seem to embody certain personalities. Among these were experimental designs and prototypes from the Vitra archives, including the Vodöl armchair (1989) by Austrian architects Coop Himmelb(l)au, the Chair/Chair (1987) by American artist Richard Artschwager, the Slow Car (2007) by Dutch designer Jürgen Bey, and a mould created at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for the reproduction of La Chaise (1989/90) by Charles and Ray Eames.

 

 

Limited Edition by Dimore Studio

Limited Edition exhibition by Dimore Studio. Photo by Andrea Ferrari

 

One of Italy’s most celebrated contemporary interior design practices, Dimore Studio devised three separate installations for this year’s Milan Design Week. Perhaps the most interesting was Limited Edition, a collection of nine one-off items designed by the studio’s co-founder Emiliano Salci presented in an atmospheric smoke-filled gallery space with cathode-ray computer screens displaying information about the series. The designer took classic pieces from the turn of 19th century – consoles, bars, low tables and buffets – deconstructed them and then put them back together with new fittings, lacquers and materials like polished gold-plated brass and brushed steel in an effort to breathe new life into the items.

 

Villa Borsani

AT16 swivel coat stand designed by Borsani for Tecno in 1961

 

Ahead of a retrospective of his work next month at Milan’s Triennale Design Museum, a home designed by mid-century designer Osvaldo Borsani for his twin brother has been opened to the public for the first time. The brothers founded the furniture company Tecno in 1953, and curator Ambra Medda has installed several classic pieces designed by Borsani for the company in the house on the outskirts of the city, as well as drawings, paintings and photographs relating to the business and the family. This light-touch renovation of a home that has been unoccupied for more than a decade reveals Borsani’s considered and inventive approach to design, engineering and architecture, through items such as the AT16 swivel coat stand and several adjustable chairs.

 

 

Unsighted

From Robert Sironi’s ruins at Unsighted

 

A project by Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, the co-founder of Carwan Gallery in Beirut and Nomad, the “traveling showcase for contemporary art and design”, Unsighted was an exhibition of collectible items by eight contemporary designers who were asked to produce work while unaware of the context they would be shown in (the grand but shabby Palazzo dei Demoni). The idea was to emancipate them from the constraints of a conventional brief. Highlights included Canadian designer Omer Arbel’s vases made using blown glass and a fine copper mesh; Irish artist Niamh Barry’s Underneath, a sculpture that uses LED lights and bronze to contemplate the precarcarity of life; and Italian Roberto Sironi’s series of forms in bronze and artificial marble, based on archeological ruins.

 

 

Historical Promiscuities by Adam Nathaniel Furman

Ceramic buildings by Adam Nathaniel Furman

 

British artist and designer Furman’s colourful ceramic renditions of classical buildings in Rome were conceived as part of his residency at the British School in the Italian capital a few years ago, and were first showed at the Sir John Soane Museum in London last year in an exhibition called The Roman Singularity, which argued for a more hands-on and irreverent attitude to history. As part of a solo show called Historical Promiscuities, they went on display in Milan at the studio of architecture practice Vudafieri-Saverino Partners – recontextualised and reinterpreted by curator Luca Molinari to give them a new storyline. They are exhibited alongside a series of limited edition ceramic pieces developed with Italian brand Bitossi.

 

Future Artefact by NOV

Olympia by Candice Blanc and Ulysse Martel. Photo by Raphaëlle Mueller

 

Geneva-based gallery NOV aims to bring forth limited edition pieces by emerging Swiss designers. At Rossana Orlandi Gallery this week, it presented a collection of items that attempted to answer the question: “What is today’s symbolic object that will be considered a future artefact?” The results are striking. Olympia by Candice Blanc and Ulysse Martel is a set of steel free weights, dumbells and push up-bars, with a lacquered finish and architectural qualities – an ode to physical perfection and the cult of the body, their only function is to decorate the home. Meanwhile, Salim Douma and Victor Guittet created Stylet, a beautifully crafted stylus for an age when the gesture of handwriting is fast disappearing. Meanwhile, Sébastien El Idrissi reinterpreted the selfie-stick as a standing light.

 

 

Stranger Pinks by Artemest

Stranger Pinks exhibition by Artemest

 

It’s a dubious premise – an all-pink collection of one-off items to celebrate women (but not limited to female designers). Still, Stranger Pinks has yielded some interesting results. Presented by Artemest, an online retailer of Italian artisanal work, in a 1930s villa, the collection includes handcrafted clay items by Paola Paronetto, Ilaria Ferraro Toueg’s minimalist upholstered Rose Bench, a wall lamp inspired by a hand-held fan by Servomuto in pleated organza and brass.

 

 

Moon Mission by Driade and Studio Nucleo

3D-printed item from Moon Mission by Driade and Studio Nucleo

 

In advance of the 50-year anniversary of the first moon landing next year, Italian furniture brand Driade invited Torino-based practice Studio Nucleo to transform some of its best known items for use and production on the moon. The practice worked with writer Gianluigi Ricuperati to consider how furniture might look on the moon, then took designs by Philippe Starck, Naoto Fukusawa and Enzo Mar and recreated them in 3D-printed form using a soft sand similar to regolith, the layer of dust, soil and rock on the moon’s surface

 

 

 


Debika Ray is London-based journalist, writer and editor, writing for such titles as the Guardian, Icon, Kinfolk, Disegno, Metropolis. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Clove, a magazine about the culture of South Asia and its diaspora

 
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